Inspiring women - Sanne Hop

My interview with the kind and lovely Sanne Hop is the second installment in my series of interviews with inspiring women (check out my interview with Ashley Jensen from Mouse in the House shop here, if you missed it)

I said this in the intro to my interview with Ashley, but just in case you missed that one, the reason I wanted to do this interview series is that I wanted to share a bit about the amazing women we've met through our business. The amazing relationships that we've made with other women has been a wonderful and unexpected side part of starting our little business. These women have been so gracious, answered my (probably silly) questions, given me advice, and supported our little business .

I met Sanne through Instagram, and I was an admirer of her lovely aesthetic and beautiful writing long before I got up the courage to send her a message asking if I could send her a few clothing samples for her kids (I'm a little shy sometimes so this Instagram hustle can be hard for me). She not only said yes, but she is the kindest person that I've met through Instagram. Anyways, without further ado, here's my interview with Sanne!

For those who may not know you, can you tell us who you are?

Yes, of course. I am Sanne Hop, 38 years old. A mother, a wife, a historian and story teller. With images and words I try to share the beauty of our everyday life.

 Sanne and her four children

Sanne and her four children

For now I spend my time mostly mothering our four children. We made the decision long time ago that I would be staying home with them, at least for the time that they are young. And we are all still very happy about that decision. It brings us much calm in our daily life and next to that I feel very lucky and thankful to be present for them and have them around me.

What or who inspires your style?

Oh it can be so many things. The smallest occasional things that catch my eye. It can be colors, shapes, (old) photos, conversations, landscapes but also places in the city.

My children inspire me too. They way children see things is so pure and honest. I often find myself wondering how they would look at something. And trying to see without judging or interpreting, is a very interesting way of looking into the world.

Also my father, who unfortunately isn’t with us anymore, still is such an inspiration for me. He was a very gifted writer, philosopher and photographer. I think about him almost every day and it’s not difficult to get inspired by his work.

I often find myself attracted to photos and things with a rather nostalgic mood.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Well as many of you might know, we are moving this year. From the city towards a much quieter place. Surrounded by nature, a little beach, a bit more living space, and more calm; we will hopefully spend some happy years there together as a family.

What do you do to relax or unwind?

Mostly reading, when I find the time. It can be anything from children’s books, to good magazines and of course books. I find much love in literature. A good classic roman always makes me happy.

Reading together with the children is something I dearly love too. We do this everyday, before bedtime, but when we find the time also during the day.

I also love being creative. These days it is mostly together with one or more children, but that is so good too. Drawing for instance, helps me to connect with my sense of sight, and it slows down my seeing and makes it more embodied. (Hope that doesn’t sound to vague:)

What also truly relaxes me is just watching the children while they get creative. On Wednesday’s at the sculpture class, I always hang around for a bit to watch the children explore creative questions.

 Sanne's girls in our Lily culottes

Sanne's girls in our Lily culottes

I love your photos of Amsterdam. Can you tell me about some of your favourite spots in the city?

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 Very nearby we have the Amstelveld, which I find one of the most beautiful squares in Amsterdam. There are beautiful old trees and mostly old canal houses. There is lots of play area, and a little café where the parents can enjoy a coffee. Next to that I love the variety of museums we have here, some of them are really interesting for children like het Rijksmuseum or het Stedelijk museum. But also the Jewish cultural quarter and the NEMO where children can participate in scientific experiments, are really good spots.

 During the week I often take little Kaatje to de Kleine Parade, a kids concept store where children can play and the parents can meet friends.

Next to that we love to spend time at parks like the Vondelpark or Oosterpark, where in summer the little ones can swim in a pool.

Can you talk about raising kids in a city, some advantages and disadvantages?

 It’s so funny that you ask this question at this very moment, because we will move out of the city and have been talking about this so much.

One of the big advantages for me is the way of traveling; everything is nearby and can be done by bike. We almost never take the car to do something here.

Next to that I love the cultural diversity the children experience. Lots of different people, lots of cultures, and all living together. I find it very enriching for the children to experience this and be part of it.

What I also really love in the city is the solidarity of other parents. We help each other, whenever and wherever we can. Taking along other children, watching them for some time or bringing them home or to clubs; it is normal everyday life.

And next to all this, it is an amazing surrounding to live in. Growing up in such a beautiful city with its architecture, history, little boutiques and museums is something I am still thankful for every day. I am sure this develops a way of seeing things, and sense for valuing beauty.

The disadvantages are pretty obvious too; the city got extremely busy over the past years. Especially the city center has to deal with so many tourists these days. More people, more traffic, more noise, those are the disadvantages the children have to deal with on a daily basis too. They don’t have a big outside area to explore by themselves. Something they will have when we move, and this is one thing we all look forward too.

Can you talk about your daily rhythms with your kids?

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 Our morning routine is pretty much the same during the week. My husband prepares them breakfast and fills their schoolbags for the day, while I get myself ready to take them to school. Often I take along little Kaatje, she loves bringing the children to school and playing outside for a bit afterwards.

After this we either visit a friend, play at home, or visit a children’s café. When it’s sunny weather we meet up at a playground with friends. 

We will mostly have a quiet lunch at home and spend some quiet time, crafting or reading, before we pick up the children from school.

When all together again, we often stick around at school, where there are lots of friends to play with and the playground is really fantastic.

If the weather isn’t so nice, we play at home or the children visit one of their friends.

Wednesday is special day, when we visit the atelier of a sculpture artist. One or two of the children will stay there for the whole afternoon to learn from her. I always make a little story of that day on instagram too. I often hear people are really looking forward to see our Wednesday stories. I have to say, it is something rather special.

Our dinners are quiet early mostly, so we have the time to have a relaxing time together and the children can watch the children’s news afterwards.

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Reading separately to all the children before bedtime is also a daily routine, and we all love that.

During the weekends, we do things a little less structured. Except for our Sunday family breakfast, we love to see what the day brings.

Any parenting inspirations you want to share?

This is a difficult question. I can only speak from my own experience and of course the things I see around me.

Rather structured days work really well for our children, it gives them a safe and secure feeling.

Next to that I am a calm person myself, I don’t really know if that is always a positive thing, but I take my time to listen to them and respond. I often try to see things from their perspective. Something that might seem unimportant to us, may be a big deal to them.

When it comes to people, I have met the most inspiring Montessori teacher here in Amsterdam: Simone Davies. With all of the children I attended her class once a week. I also followed her E-course how to bring Montessori into our daily lives. Next to that she has brought out a fantastic book ‘the Montessori toddler’, how to understand toddlers better. I can really recommend this book to any toddler parent, and in fact to any parent in general. It really helped me to get rid of some chaos and it definitely helped to bring some more calm into our lives.

Each of your Instagram captions reads like a poem, I’d love to know more about your literary inspirations and whether you have a background in writing or are self-taught.

First of all, thank you so much for saying so. That really means a lot.

My father was a gifted writer, and I love to read and write myself too. During university time, I took some writing classes next to my history master.

From quiet a young age I have loved classic books from writers like Tosloj, Dostojevski or Nabokov. I could dream away for hours reading those books. But I really appreciate Dutch writers like Remco Campert, Griet op de Beeck and Maarten Biesheuvel too.

One of my favorite writers, Joke van Leeuwen, is a big inspiration for me. She writes for both children and adults, but I especially love her children’s books. She really champions the uninhibited way children look at the world, fighting against narrow mindedness. And I absolutely love her humor.

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I think what binds them all together, is their very personal, sometimes peculiar way of looking at the world.

It still is a dream for me to one day write something significant like a children’s book, illustrated by my sister Tessa. But for now that is still a dream, since we are both so occupied with our families at the moment.

I love the simple look of your photos. Any tips for aspiring photographers?

A difficult question again. I always feel, who am I to give advice?

I would say always try to stay true to yourself and the things that feel close and important to you. If you can manage to do so, you will have the biggest chance to develop a unique, personal style.

Finally, anything you want to add?

I would like to thank you for asking me for this interview, I really feel honored to be in your list of women. And apart from that I feel your work is very important and I love supporting you in any way.

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